Government overrides agreements
Emergency order gives employer short-term right to reassign, change shifts and take other measures
On March 21, the Ontario government issued an emergency order giving hospitals the power to reassign, change shifts, cancel leaves and vacations, have contractors brought in to supplement the workforce and have volunteers and non-bargaining unit people do bargaining unit work. On March 23, a similar order was issued for long term care.
The orders last for 14 days and can be renewed for a further 14 days and then would have to be passed into law to remain in effect.
Other parts of the collective agreement remain in effect and can be grieved.
The government has told the unions that during this period there are to be no layoffs of full-time or regular part-time staff. Please alert your local union if FT and RPT members are being sent home in your department.
Campaign starts with sticker day April 2
CUPE has called for this order to be repealed and not to be extended. A sticker day is planned for April 2 on the issue of access to personal protective equipment for COVID. Please wear the sticker Safety for Patients and Staff (hospitals) Safety for Residents and Staff (long-term care) on April 2.
Poll shows deep anxiety and concern over COVID
In a poll taken on March 21 of 2,400 members working in hospitals and long term care represented by CUPE:
- 81% are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression or insomnia due to COVID.
- 70% think the government is not doing enough to protect them or their patients or residents.
- 30% had access to the appropriate personal protective equipment.
CUPE’s position on personal protective equipment
Highly respected medical organizations have warned that COVID-19 could be airborne. A list of these is on the Coronavirus Update page.
CUPE recommends that anyone whose work brings them within six feet of a suspected or actual case of COVID should be equipped with airborne precautions, which would include the N95 mask, face shield or goggles, gloves and gown.
You should ask for this equipment if you are going to work in close contact with a COVID patient/resident. If your request is refused you can ask that the union be called. The Ministry of Labour may also be asked to attend.
Because there is a shortage of this equipment, it is vital that the available equipment be kept for those nurses, cleaners, screeners and others whose work brings them into direct contact with actual or potential COVID patients.
Release expired masks, CUPE asks
CUPE is calling on the Ontario government to release its stock of expired N95 masks to the health care workforce. Only the elastic is actually expired on these masks, The government plans to give these masks to police and fire.